What’s with Modi on Maldives?

Image result for pics of abdulla yameen and modi

[Yameen in Beijing with Xi]

Has the Prime Minister lost it? Lost all sense about what works to keep the neighbourhood out of China’s grasp? Lost his marbles over the need to administer Abdulla Yameen, the calculating autocrat in Male, a dose of Indian hard power? Isn’t it time, Narendra Modiji, for you to wake up and appreciate that while your forbearance goes unappreciated by the Maldivan President, a brace of Indian warships dropping anchor off his residence promising a little roustabout, may clear his head, define his limited options, faster than the Indian PM can say “vishwa guru” (which is what he wants India to be recognized as!)

Despite every provocation, including the latest of asking Delhi to remove forthwith its helicopters loaned to the Maldives govt, the Indian ambassador being called in and given a talking to about Subramanyam Swamy’s colourful advice to “invade” Maldives should Yameen attempt to fool around with the voting process in the soon-to-be-held presidential elections and, simultaneously, keeping China among other countries informed of these developments, the BJP regime led by Modi seems unconcerned. The MEA has dismissed Swamy’s  public counsel as so much hot air of a kind frequently emitted by that source and, at the same time, wondered what the world will think of India, which has clamoured for a rules-based order, if it did anything so rash because, after all, India is a “responsible” state.

This stance of being responsible, acting responsibly, in all situations and circumstances even as the ship of India’s national interest, carefully riddled with holes by a Maldivan upstart, is sinking right before our eyes is ridiculous to say the least. Who the heck is Modi and the traditionally spineless MEA seeking to impress with India’s catholicity? Trump and the US, rinky-dink European powers? Who, and for what purpose? Does the PM think it will burnish India’s image and improve its chances of becoming a great power the easy way — by acclamation? WHAT?

The principle of “responsible behaviour” has never been observed by any major country since the founding of sovereign states under the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. So Modi seems intent on setting a new standard for India to hew to, alas, to its own grievous detriment. China is in the process of taking charge of an entire atoll under the figleaf of building tourism infrastructure as part of BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) while constructing electronic intelligence gathering stations for monitoring Indian naval communications traffic. This is a start. And by way of diversion squawking incessantly about Indian military buildup of the Indonesian port of Sabang. Soon we may see a version of what the Chinese accomplished mid-channel in the South China Sea — artificially extended small islands bristling with surveillance, tracking and targeting radar slaved to long range artillery and missile systems, thereby severely undermining the extant Indian radar grid in the southern Indian Ocean and putative Indian Naval control of the strategic Eight and Nine degree channels.

What will it take for Modi to act, to send in two teams of the navy’s MARCOS (marine commandos) — more than enough, to take care of Yameen and his team of weasels and pack them off to exile to whichever country wants them. Perhaps China.

Unfortunately, enough is never enough for Messrs Modi, Doval. Modi’s overarching desire to keep the West happy by seeking Washington’s prior approval for any forceful action against Yameen reminds me of the hopeful arriviste waiting to be invited to join a club and doing anything and every thing to ingratiate himself with its powerful members, and even following the rules that they talk of but never ever follow.

There is no remedy for such lack of self-respect and, even more, for Modi’s rank unwillingness to further the country’s interests at any cost. There’s however an explanation. His own subaltern background and entrenched subaltern values and thinking drive him to do this — to seek America’s praise, part and very much parcel of his aspirational foreign policy of overtilting to the US on the one hand and, would you believe it, of placating China on the other hand.

After all the PLA can act up on Xi’s say-so at anytime on the LAC, give the Indian army a  drubbing, and sink Modi’s chances of retaining power in the 2019 general elections. So Beijing has to be pacified. In this context, rubbing China the wrong way on Maldives or any other issue becomes imprudent. Whence, Yameen is allowed to do as he wishes at India’s expense.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in asia-Pacific/Indo-Pacific, Asian geopolitics, China, China military, Culture, Decision-making, domestic politics, Europe, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's China Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Navy, Indian Ocean, Indian Politics, Maldives, MEA/foreign policy, Military/military advice, Missiles, SAARC, South Asia, South East Asia, United States, US., Weapons. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to What’s with Modi on Maldives?

  1. Vivek says:

    India is becoming America’s dog under bjp. I believe Congress was better in this sense.

    • Shankara says:

      From 1990 all govts have slowly moved towards USA
      Bjp congresss no exceptions
      Despite many blunders by nehru
      His non alignment concept kept Indians soverignity safe by without aligning to Russia or USA and allow our nation to be compromised..

      Now after 50 years
      Never expected a non alignment nation that enjoyed freedom to be chained to USA as a import colony ….treaded as lap dog

      • Shankara says:

        * non alignment states allowed our internal security to be independent and never allowed any body to dominate over us..

        Sorry for typos

  2. Vishnugupt says:

    @ Prof Karnad
    “His own subaltern background and entrenched subaltern values and thinking drive him to do this”

    I don’t recollect other UK educated PMs with “privileged” upbringings doing things any differently until the situation is dire. One did try and made a fool of himself and then got killed because of it.

    My best guess is that Modi is perhaps waiting to get reelected.Because if he doesn’t the congress on CPI(M) behest will not even raise a pinky finger against China much like in lost decade (2004-14)

    And the admirals too might have told him “we can get him(Yameen) anytime we want Mr. Prime Minister”

    I feel getting him reelected with a strong mandate is key to tame the dragon in the long run. The NDA under Modi, with all its strategic mistakes has at least has the “desire” to take on China.And that gives me hope.

    Because we can be pretty sure that the congress will never do anything to hurt China’s interest if they come to power with CPI(M)’s support, which is the only way they will come to power in 2019 along with other money hungry loony gangs with a price tag.

    • Shankara says:

      In the name of Elections modi followers keep post poning many things

      But Forgotten to realize the fact that…this govt only looked after her own self INTERESTs by clearing FasTrack deals…
      FCRA bill that allows anonymity of source of forign funds to bjp or congresss
      Also overnight adding invalid clause to dalit attrocities bill objected by supreme Court
      To keep vote bank

      But failed to act upon national interest

      It’s the plain truth

      • Vishnugupt says:

        “this govt only looked after her own self INTERESTs by clearing FasTrack deals…”

        I completely agree, but i would still vote for them, you know why?

        No matter how much they steal, they will not sell the country to the Chinese.

        I bet you can’t say the same about congress supported by Commies.

      • Shankara says:

        Cam you tell who has been allowed by modi govt to handle 5th gen Telecom sectr after shouting from roof top Chinese Chinese??
        CONgReSS bjp have no difference

    • Prakash says:

      I agree. But I have a lurking feeling that Modi will do something on the Maldives, sooner rather than later….

  3. Col Ravi Nath says:

    It is very disheartening to read that we are gradually loosing our close military cooperation with Maldives. Again discouraging to learn that our rival China is gaining control on Yameen. We have in the past done so-much for Maldives and for being non alert in our policies in dealing with a close allies of ours we will loose those goodwill and military closeness we built up over a decade. Southern Indian Ocean region will get further dominated by China’s electronic surveillance which will jeopardise our navel manures in the Indian Ocean. While we take care of not antagonising the west, we might a greater care to ensure better hold and domination of Indian Ocean.

  4. Appu Kamath says:

    PM Modi has lost out and his Sancho Panza in Doval not understanding the rough and tumble of international geopolitics. Such a passive attitude and genuflection and submission by the NDA government is uncalled for. As a nation, India has lost its self-respect. Waiting patiently for condescending attitude Ameen, to extend the visas for the naval pilots and helicopters. Kudos to the author for the article. We are not able to pursue our national interest.

  5. Modi is following Chinese policy of keeping low profile till the country becomes economically powerful. Remember we may have a big army and weapons but very low ammo.

    After Pakistani hijackers hijacked Indian plane and we released the terrorist we are chasing at UN and begging China to outlaw him, India’s soft belly has been seen by one and all.

    After that attack on Mumbai, on Indian Parliament,earlier allowing Pakistan to acquire nuclear weapons in late 1980s.

    Not settling Kashmir once and for all in 1971 by chickening out in victory by releasing POWs

    All this shows the limit of India’s military power. And economic power.

    When we are not able to protect our own territory and people what hope protecting influence outside.

    Modi is focused on development and if that means allowing the sinking of untrusted countries and islands he is making the right decision.

    Keeping China in good books is a rule followed by even more powerful countries and groups like Europe, Russia, UK, France and the UK.

    So if Modi is doing it to ensure India’s growth rate remains highest by not taking rash and risky decision he is right in his decisions.

    Regarding China, it does not need Maldives to install a Radar station in future, it can permanently deploy a carrier group in the Indian ocean in the future as also a base in Sri Lanka and Bay of Bengal. It has enough money to spend on such expensive junkets.

    But India is still by and far a poor country with

  6. AD says:

    Maybe Doval really likes to attend meetings, conferences and symposia in USA. At least that is the impression I got over past three years. In any case, he was never able to deliver what he promised in 2014-2015. Perhaps, he has plans to solidify his legacy by setting up even more think-tanks. Who knows?

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